If you are like me and in the habit of doing lots of baking, you probably end up accumulating all kinds of flours and sugars over the months. My one designated baking shelf in our tiny kitchen above the refrigerator is always bursting at the seams. I now avoid the baking aisle like the plague, lest I fall into “Oh wow, there’s a sale on my favorite organic buckwheat flour… and oh cool, I love this garbanzo bean flour, I haven’t made socca in so long. Chestnut flour? Hmmm, so exotic, can you imagine the chocolate crepes I could make with that stuff?” I end up tossing it in the cart with so many ideas, but oh, so little time.
Besides what I buy, I also have leftover baking ingredients from teaching cooking classes. What is this gringa gonna do with five pounds of leftover Maseca corn flour from that class on tortillas? (thank goodness I’ve discovered arepas.) With each recipe I use up one more cup, and with each sweet recipe, I slowly work my way through the brown sugar I bought last year at a discount market before discovering the wonders of sucanat.
Indeed, it’s still getting crowded up there.
Since I’m a good student of food science, I know that the whole grain flours I buy won’t last forever on that warm shelf as the bran and germ contain oils that go rancid, leaving a plastic-y, stale-tasting mess of your muffins. And don’t nuthin’ mess with my muffins.
So the day to make a dent was due. I was itching to bake something to take along on our camping trip to North Cascades Park this weekend, something that would store well unrefrigerated over two days and could be munched on over same. I was going to make muffins, but instead I had two small bags of cornmeal that had been sitting on the shelf for months, and they were calling my name. Cornbread. Perfect.
Cornbread can take many forms. Sweet and spicy, savory and herbed, with lard, without, in a cast-iron skillet or a Pyrex casserole dish. I have some great childhood memories of the stuff, when my mother would make white bean and ham stew and a batch of cornbread that we’d slather with butter. I loved that dinner, which we had numerous times on a rotation schedule with meatloaf, tacos, sloppy joe’s and spaghetti with meat sauce. I think grew up on pulverized beef and spare pork products. No wonder I later became a vegetarian (thanks, Mom!)
This cornbread recipe would go right well with that traditional bean soup. It’s so chock full of flax and pumpkin seeds, with whole grain flour and a bit (just one tablespoon!) of sweetener. I don’t like my cornbread sweet and sissy, and this one is not for the faint of heart, mind you. My mother, the misplaced hippie she is, is into healthy cooking and whole grains, despite all that meat eating. She would be proud of this loaf. It’s kind of like the power bar of cornbreads, if you will.
The cornbread looking ominous
Next time I may just lighten up on the flax, as the amount seems to displace the corn flavor somewhat. Simply reduce the amount of liquid a bit, as flax soaks up liquid like a sponge. You can increase or decrease the flour and corn meal, depending on your preference for a lighter or denser loaf. The original recipe only added ½ cup of the cornmeal, which I increased and then reduced the flour. Serve this with a nice salted organic butter, or olive oil for dipping, and you may be satisfied after just one piece.
Flax and Pumpkin Seed Cornbread
Modified from a Recipe from Whole Foods Market website c2008
1/2 cup flaxseed
1 1/4 cups whole wheat pastry flour or rye flour
1 cup yellow cornmeal
2 teaspoons non-aluminum baking powder
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 cup unsweetened soy milk
1/4 cup olive oil
1 tablespoon pure maple syrup
1/3 cup roasted pumpkin seeds
Preheat oven to 350°F. Coat an 8-inch loaf pan with olive oil or butter.
In mini-food processor or coffee grinder, process flaxseed until finely ground, about 10 to 20 seconds.
In a large bowl, combine ground flaxseed, flour, cornmeal, baking powder and salt. In a small bowl, combine egg, soy milk, oil and maple syrup and whisk. Make a well in dry ingredients and add liquid ingredients. Stir until just combined. Stir in pumpkin seeds.
Scrape batter into prepared loaf pan. Bake 45 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool in pan on a rack for 5 minutes (I know it’s hard to wait… my impatience earned me a loaf with the bottom sheared off, oops) then turn it out of the pan to continue cooling on the rack.